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    Thursday, February 28, 2013

    A Crash is Coming

    I did something stupid.

    I registered for a conference in April (not the stupid part) and signed up to pitch the novel I’m currently writing (clearly the stupid part!) 

    Most writers' conferences make it a rule that you can’t pitch a novel that isn’t complete. It makes sense. I mean how frustrating would it be for an agent or editor to hear from an author with a great book idea then find out the project isn’t done? Probably about as frustrating as being an author with a great book idea and only a month to complete the manuscript!

    I get stupider.

    I also decided that March should be a weight-loss month for me. I purchased a diet product that has worked in the past and plan to start the 26 day program March 1st.

    The other day I optimistically told my husband that I’d spend the month of March writing and NOT eating.

    Kory gave me a look and said, “Honey, when have those two things EVER gone together?”

    Sigh. He just had to go and yank the purple out of my rainbow.

    But he’s right. One of my critique partners once said, “I’d love to see your face while you write this stuff.”

    I told her, “It looks like this” and pantomimed one hand on the keyboard, the other stuffing my face.

    It’s been scientifically proven (I don’t know by whom) that chewing helps you think.

    So here are the facts:

    1. I have to write roughly 60,000 words to finish my novel.
    2. I. Can’t. Eat.

    Here are my options:
    1. Abandon all hope of losing weight and just do whatever it takes to finish the novel. My critique group advocated for this approach, but I fear if I take their advice I may have a finished novel and not be able to fit through the conference doors.
    2. Learn to like celery.

    Mmmm! I love celery! Celery is the best thing that ever happened to this world. I mean, it’s so much better than rhubarb, which tastes so awful people try to mask it with strawberries of all things.

    At this point in the blog, some well-meaning reader is thinking, “I’m going to leave Evangeline a comment and tell her to just develop better eating habits. Eat healthy and with an eye to moderation. Get plenty of rest and exercise. And drink water. Getting healthy requires a lifestyle change, not a binge diet.”

    Well-meaning reader, you are absolutely right. But unlike my approach to skin care and housework (do enough to get by) with dieting, it’s all or nothing. I have two settings:
    1. Subsist on 500 calories a day
    2. Eat everything in sight.

    I’m not saying this is as it should be, but for some reason that’s how my willpower works. Or doesn’t.

    So as we head into March, I worry for my family. I worry for my wordcount. I worry for the victims of my coming crankiness. I worry for the characters in my novel, who already live in a dystopian world and will likely be forced to eat something really nasty, like rhubarb, because their insane creator is on a crash diet.

    Thursday, February 21, 2013

    Rap Not Required

    For the past couple of weeks I’ve been writing chapters from my male characters’ point of views. Because I’m a glutton for punishment and because I get myself in over my head regularly when I’m writing, I decided to include TWO teenage male POV characters in my Work in Progress.

    Last night when my husband got home I lamented the day’s dismal word count and challenging subject.

    “I’m having trouble writing from a 17-year-old boy’s perspective,” I told
    Kory. “I just don’t think I understand them.”

    His response was, “No one understands 17-year-old boys, least of all 17-year-old boys.”

    “So I shouldn’t ask them how they feel? Should I ask their mothers?”

    He shrugged.

    I’m not sure interviewing moms would help all that much. After all I’m the mother of an 11-year-old boy and most of the time I have no idea what’s going through his head. Unfortunately, I see this getting worse before it gets better.

    I often use music to “get to know” my characters. I find songs that relate to the character’s journey or inner wounds, and by listening to them repeatedly I’m better able to get in touch with that character’s emotions.

    Lately I’ve been terrified that I was going to have to start listening to rap in order to better understand a 17-year-old’s perspective. A pesky voice whispered that I should “do the thing that scares me.” But rap? Did it have to be rap?

    Rap brings out the granny in me. I just don’t get it. I have no frame of reference with which to interpret it.

    And yet I felt like I owed it to somebody to listen to rap. How could my characters be authentic if I didn't?

    But the truth is we all experience the same emotions although we might react differently or act upon them differently. The songs I pick for my characters are really songs that help me get in touch with my own emotions. If I get to that authentic place then I’ve grabbed hold of something universal whether I’m writing from the perspective of a college girl, an invalid, or a 17-year-old boy.

    I have a pretty good playlist going over on Spotify, and while there’s no rap on it, there are quite a few songs that remind me how it feels to be confused, afraid, angry, or in love. I hope my “boys” Blaise and Whit are living that out on the page.

    But if you happen to know a 17-year-old guy who enjoys talking about his feelings, send him my way. I could use the help!

    Friday, February 15, 2013

    A Birthday, a Getaway and a New Understanding

    I shot a wolf! Well, ok, it was made of foam and not exactly fast. Still Kory thought it was impressive that I managed to peg him right in the teeth. He made sure we got a picture.

    We spent last weekend at Snow Mountain Ranch way up in the cold Colorado mountains somewhere near Winter Park ski resort. We were celebrating Kory’s birthday. It was one of those milestone birthdays, and it seems to have flapped my unflappable husband. I don’t know why. The truth is, men just get cuter as they get older.


    Kory is standing next to Chad and Dick, the two draft horses who pulled the sleigh we rode in. We’d stopped for hot cocoa and Chad was literally chomping at the bit. The driver explained that he had a thing for one of the horses pulling another sleigh that had just left the cocoa stop. She said Chad was “embarrassing himself,” but I thought it was cute that he was so anxious to follow his lady back to the stables.

    Pretty boys!

    Speaking of girl-crazy guys, Chunky could’ve spent hours in the craft center at Snow Mountain Ranch, making gifts for his special friend. He painted a wooden heart and wrote “Will you be my Valentine?” on it. Then he made her a leather bracelet with dogs, cats and hearts. He was intent on buying her something in the gift shop until I insisted he pick out something for himself instead. Sometimes I envy that boy’s future wife. Is that weird to say?

    Chunky snow-shoeing
    I’m afraid the cold air was hard on Monkey who wasn’t quite over that awful respiratory virus we all had. His asthma plagued him the whole weekend, turning my Indoor Boy into a true hermit. So while Kory and Chunky went snow-shoeing, Monkey and I holed up in the room, watching movies and reading. What can I say; he is his mother’s child.

    I think we learned from this little getaway that half of our family thinks a vacation is for down time and the other half thinks vacations are for adventure. Hopefully that knowledge will make future family vacations more enjoyable for everyone.

    How about you? Would you rather spend your time away reading in a beach chair or snorkeling? Does your preferred relaxation method clash with your spouse or other family members?

    Is your husband getting annoyingly cuter as he ages?

    Tuesday, February 5, 2013

    Weekend of the Unwell

    Hello from the Plague House! We don’t know what it was, but we do know it hated us and wanted us dead.

    I don’t get sick very often. I wash my hands a lot. I mean, A LOT! So much that my kids complain about my chapped skin when I touch them. So does my husband. I have a bit of a Cinderella complex, so I tell them my hands are rough from doing too many dishes.

    Monkey often tells me I should take a week off.  When I ask, “Who’s going to do the dishes?” he always volunteers his dad. We think Monkey is excellent management material.

    I was rather put out with this virus for having the nerve to attack me. First, because it should be a universal law that moms are exempt from illness while the rest of the family has it. And, second, because there should be at least one bonus to having sandpaper skin like mine.

    But I was not immune. For four days straight one or all of the three boys in the house had a temperature over 100. Friday I had a migraine then realized I was coming down with the crud. 

    On Saturday I felt like death.
    Freezing, aching death. 
    Death under a frozen lake. 
    My temperature was 99. 
    Yeah, that’s as spectacular as it gets.

    The four of us spent the entire weekend on the couch, which really should be fumigated now. I think we watched every episode of iCarly on Netflix. At one point we even watched a frequently interrupted, but seemingly important, football game. We decided to root for the Ravens because we liked the Edgar Allan Poe association, but even that proved a weak selling point and we went back to iCarly.

    I’ve lost count of how many trips to Walgreens my husband or I made. Saturday night I made a late night run for Pedialyte popsicles and Gatorade. There’s no hiding your condition when you slouch through the Walgreens check-out with four different electrolyte replacement products. The cashier kept a good two feet between herself and the counter between us then Lysoled everything I’d touched as I walked out the door. I didn’t blame her.

    The next night when I went back to buy humidifiers I actually combed my hair and kept the sniffling to a minimum. This time the cashier gave me a pleasant “Have a good evening” and no sign of the cross as I left.

    The only good thing about being sick is giving myself permission to sit around and read all day. I started Cindi Madsen’s novel, All the Broken Pieces. I have to say, Cindi had a stroke of genius when she combined a modern-day Frankenstein story with the angst of a high school girl who wants to fit in and be herself. Makes me wish I’d thought of it.

    So what makes you feel better when you’re sick? Movie marathons? Ice cream? Frightening Walgreen’s employees with your wretchedness?

    Have you ever stuck tissues up your nose and waited for death?

    And if you were Frankenstein’s monster, hiding on the fringes of society, what would you think of Beyonce’s half-time show?